Can you own a Geoffroy’s cat?

The question in the title is unspecific. In order to answer the question, you have to specify where you live because the law changes from place to place across the planet. So, for instance, in the USA each of the 50 states has their own law on the ownership of wild animals including the small wild cat species which includes Geoffroy’s cat. And therefore, I can’t answer the question in a clear, precise way in this article but I can provide some pointers which may help.

Geoffroy's cat
Geoffroy’s cat. Photo: “Cloudtail the Snow Leopard” – Flickr user. The photo was taken at Zoo Karlsruhe.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Let’s take the two countries I know quite a lot about in terms of laws: the USA and the UK. The Big Cat Rescue (BCR) website has a useful list of the laws relating to the keeping of wild cats on a state-by-state basis. It is unusual for me to link to an outside page but I will on this occasion. Please click on the following link to have a look at this page. I do know, however, without checking, that in California you will need a licence to own a Geoffroy’s cat.

In their introduction BCR state that there are four US states which have no laws on keeping dangerous wild animals as pets including Geoffroy’s cat and these are: Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina and Wisconsin. Six US states don’t ban or regulate the keeping of big cats as pets while 21 states ban all dangerous exotic pets which would include Geoffroy’s cat. They say that the remaining 29 US states allow certain wild cat species or require permits.

That is a general outline. You can see right away that is quite a complicated picture so you need to dig a little bit and do your research. As a backup, once you’ve done your research, I would suggest that you telephone the relevant department to confirm that your conclusions are correct.

In the UK, the picture is somewhat similar. If you want to own a wild animal like a Geoffroy’s cat you need to refer to the relevant law in the UK which is: The Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976 (Modification) (No.2) Order 2007. If you want to have a look at that regulation and the relevant section, please click on this link.

What it says is as follows (and the results are surprising in my opinion). The regulation lists the animals that are considered dangerous requiring licenses to keep them. However, Geoffroy’s cat is an exception and therefore you don’t need a licence to keep Geoffroy’s cat in the UK. As mentioned, this greatly surprises me. The screenshot below is of the relevant section.

UK law on keeping wildcat hybrid and wild cat species
UK law on keeping wildcat hybrid and wild cat species. This is a screenshot of the law. Please visit the actual page by clicking this link.

You will require a licence if you want to own a bobcat, caracal, cheetah, jaguar, leopard, lion, lynx, ocelot, Puma, serval and tiger. But you won’t need a licence to own a Pallas’s cat, a little-spotted cat (oncilla), Geoffroy’s cat as mentioned, the kodkod, the bay cat, the sand cat, the black-footed cat and the rusty-spotted cat.

There are also certain exceptions regarding wildcat hybrids which I won’t mention here because they are outside the ambit of this article.

I would suggest that if you want to own a Geoffroy’s cat that you do due diligence beforehand. Remember this is a wild cat species. Wild cats do not make good pets. If you need a licence to own one and you are granted one, there will be rules and regulations which you must comply with in order to continue to own a Geoffroy’s cat. And depending upon where you live, there may be inspections of your facilities and property together with a check on your caregiving standards to make sure that you continue to comply with the terms of the licence.

It is not a matter of simply buying a Geoffroy’s cat and treating that cat is a domestic cat in the usual way. You will find that 99% of people don’t have the commitment, the facilities, the mentality, the wherewithal and ultimately the desire to look after a Geoffroy’s cat or any other small wild cat as a pet. It’s just too demanding. However, if you are enamoured of the small wild cats and love them, and have the time and funding to look after a small wild cat to a high standard then you’ll be just fine.

Below are some articles on the Geoffroy’s cat.

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